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Caterpillar-Argonne Team to Pursue Improved Diesel Engine Combustion Systems Under HPC4MFG Program



March 10, 2019 - Caterpillar Inc. and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory are teaming up to research heavy-duty diesel engines. This project is funded by the Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and is one of seven public-private partnerships recently selected under the DOE’s High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program. (Earlier post.)

The HPC4Mfg program fosters collaboration between the DOE’s national laboratories and US manufacturers. The Caterpillar–Argonne team aims to increase efficiency and reduce emissions by optimizing the Caterpillar C15 piston and fuel spray geometry through simulation.


Researchers created this predictive cross-sectional view of an engine geometry showing in-cylinder and metal piston temperatures using a coupled conjugate heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics model.

Image by Convergent Science and Argonne National Laboratory

Caterpillar and Argonne plan to pursue a unique approach that will combine high-performance computing (HPC), additive manufacturing (AM) and higher fidelity design and simulation models. The organizations plan to build and test heavy-duty diesel engines that reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

Another goal of the project is to reduce manufacturing design costs and reduce the lead times needed to expand research-derived technology to industrial-scale manufacturing processes.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of construction/mining equipment and diesel engines, Caterpillar has state-of-the-art single- and multi-cylinder engine test facilities as well as facilities devoted to traditional and additive manufacturing. The company has a history of pushing the limits of engine simulation and continues to be a proponent of fundamental improvements in modeling capability.

Caterpillar leverages large-scale HPC resources—including Argonne’s Mira supercomputer at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and computing resources at Argonne’s Laboratory Computing Resource Center, which supports internal laboratory users—to enhance throughput from simulations.

Argonne and Caterpillar will work in tandem through multiple stages of the HPC4Mfg project using HPC simulations at Argonne and engine and AM testing facilities at Caterpillar.


Caterpillar’s plan to team with Argonne stems from previous joint projects and the desire to combine Caterpillar’s engine expertise with the laboratory’s expertise in fuel spray and combustion modeling using CONVERGE (a computational fluid dynamics software package widely used in industry) with HPC systems at the laboratory. Argonne, Caterpillar and Convergent Science have collaborated in previous DOE-funded projects as well.